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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why a snap General Election is not necessary

As Theresa May assumes the office of Prime Minister it is worth taking stock as to where we are politically.

Labour is in complete disarray. MPs are being beseiged by angry activists for seeking to depose Jeremy Corbyn and there are dark mutterings about deselections. They are about to enter a divisive and acrimonious leadership election.

The Labour Party National Executive faces the choice of excluding Jeremy Corbyn from a leadership ballot and facing protracted legal action, or allowing him to contest the election despite not having the requisite number of nominations and watching him win, widening the rift between MPs and the party at large.

Labour's paymasters, the trade unions are threatening to take their toys home, activists are focussing on internal party matters instead of campaigning in the constituencies, normal scrutiny of the Government has been effectively suspended and voters in safe Labour seats are switching in UKIP in large numbers.

In the light of all this Jeremy Corbyn has called for a snap General Election so as to force the new Prime Minister to seek a mandate. There are predictions that if this happens then Labour will lose 100 seats and the Tories could be set up in power for a generation.

UKIP and the Greens are also in the middle of leadership elections, whilst the SNP remain dominant in Scotland with only the Tories apparently threatening to spoil their party, and even that is relative.

The Liberal Democrats are the most united of the UK wide parties, they are the only ones with a coherent and distinctive pro-EU message to take into an election, but the party is broke, it does not have candidates in place, and its activists, like those of other opposition parties are still recovering from a General Election, local and regional elections and a referendum and will be difficult to motivate to fight another contest so soon.

The voters too are exhausted by a succession of elections and just want to get on with their lives for a bit. Nobody is impressed by the shenanigans in Westminster and disillusionment with poilitics and politicians is at an all-time high. A snap General Election could set a new record for low turnout.

Nobody has a manifesto in place, none of the opposition parties have a compelling narrative and if an election were to be called then they will be faced by a well-funded, Tory election machine ready to sweep away all those who stand against them.

In the circumstances why is any political leader demanding that Theresa May seek a fresh mandate at all. What happens if she calls their bluff?

What is worse is that the basis of these demands are meaningless. We do not operate a presidential system, so why pretend that we do? And even those countries who do have a presidential system like the USA would not have an election in these circumstances. They have a written constitution with clear lines of succession.

And there are precedents for a Prime Minister in Theresa May's position not to go to the country. These include Jim Callaghan, John Major and Gordon Brown, to name just three.

Moreover, the argument about mandates is a fallacious one anyway. David Cameron has a majority of 12 on a 36.9% of the vote. Turnout was 66.1% so he had the support of 24.4% of the electorate. What sort of mandate is that? In as nuch as she has a mandate at all, Theresa May has inherited the one the Tory Party won in 2015. She still has their 2015 manifesto to implement.

And finally there is the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which makes it virtually impossible for Theresa May to go to the country even if she were inclined too.

The opposition party leaders need to calm down. A snap General Election is not necessary and they are being rather silly to call for one.
Excellent article, Peter. An oasis in a sea of dross about an early election.

A US President can't call an election, and certainly not a snap one. Elections are set in stone timing wise. Everyone who cares to know election dates can look them up. Even the number of terms a US President can serve is set in stone. All part of the US Constitution.
Yes, you have a written constitution. We dont
"You" ... actually I am Welsh, and thinking of moving back to the UK to join one of my brothers in Carmarthenshire! Y? Because I'm Welsh!!! I acquired US citizenship by accident (born in Cardiff, Wales, not Cardiff, USA). Also Married in Cardiff (in a registry office which was next to Cardiff University Student's Union building (where I spent many an hour as a student at Cardiff University), 'bought' (meaning with a mortgage) my first house in Rhiwbina Cardiff. Cycled with Cardiff Ajax (though I never became a member, I was a bit cheap). Lived in Grangetown, Llanishen (council house, one of my siblings was born in that house/home birth), Trowbridge (Cemaes Crescent, spent many hours investigating the fields south of Trowbridge council estate/walked to the seaside too (quite a walk especially as we little Welsh boys didn't know how far away the sea was); both brothers born in Cardiff, one graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Sociology and Law (or maybe the other way around), Father from Cymmer (my father's cousin’s house was partly on stilts! They had a woolen shop. My first full time job in Wales was as a med lab technician at Caerphilly Miners' Hospital. My maternal grandparents were from Bedwas and Llanbradach. I am a Welsh guy.
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